Concert Review: The Piano Guys Give an Ovation-Worthy Performance

On Thursday Feb. 8, in their second concert in Cedar City, the Piano Guys once again used their instrumental talents and creative mashups to deliver a performance that will be remembered.

Taking the stage, the Piano Guys were met by a group of over 5,000 people. The group found  ways to interact with and entertain every member of the audience during the concert, regardless of age.

Beginning with pianist Jon Schmidt and cellist Steven Sharp Nelson, the Piano Guys told a story from the moment they walked on stage and captivated the audience from the first song, an instrumental mashup of Disney’s “Let it Go” from Frozen combined with Antonio Vivaldi’s Concerto No. 4 in F Minor.

Instead of relying on intense visual and audio effects, The Piano Guys kept the audience engaged with jokes, banter and stories such as Nelson’s playful stab at Schmidt: “I’ve traced the cello and the piano back to a common ancestorthe tree.”

They also demonstrated their love for the instruments they played; Nelson explained that while he only had 4 with him, he owns 28 cellos and each has a name.

During the concert the “Guys” told the audience of their origin, when The Piano Guys was just a piano store in St. George and owner Paul Anderson wanted to find a more creative way to sell pianos. Anderson asked Schmidt and Nelson to play these classical instruments in unusual places and exciting ways and when Schmidt brought vocalist Al van der Beek on board, the Piano Guys were born.

It was through YouTube videos that the Piano Guys became a sensation and they used those videos to enhance their performance. From Coldplay’s “Paradise” with a cultural twist performed atop a desert cliff with Alex Boye, to “Kung fu piano, cello ascends” inspired by the Disney movie “Kung fu Panda” played on the Great Wall of China, they gave the audience an out-of-this-world experience by bringing them on the adventures in the videos they showed. They have performed at four of the seven wonders of the world and it is their goal to perform at all of them.

Though it was two men, a piano, a cello, and a smoke machine, the Piano Guys utilized every part of their set from the stage to the scoreboard, including their own bodies. Jon Schmidt was seen playing with every extremity from his head to his toes (literally) through the concert.

They also used every part of their instruments from the bench to the strings. They played  the mashup of The Jackson 5 song “I Want You Back” and 17th century ballads creating “I Want You Bach” using the “talk box”, and One Direction’s “What Makes You Beautiful” with all four members and an open piano.

The Piano Guys incorporated personal stories of family and community through the concert, and even welcomed talented local children’s group the Suzuki Strings on stage to perform with them.

Al van der Beek’s performance of “It’s Gonna be Okay” just before intermission and other songs weaved into the concert conveyed the message and theme that everything will be okay and it created an emotional and inspiring atmosphere for everyone in the audience.

They closed out the night with an inspiring combination of “Amazing Grace” and Rachel Platten’s “Fight Song” with the accompaniment of bagpipes. A standing ovation finished the Piano Guys concert and with inspiring messages, contagious enthusiasm and music that every audience member could enjoy, it was well deserved.

Story By
Larissa Beatty

Photos By Mitchell Quartz